X Factor’s Steve Brookstein has slammed Gareth Thomas for “burdening the NHS” in a vile rant comparing HIV to obesity and smoking.
Wales rugby legend Thomas, 45, has been widely hailed for his bravery since his recent revelation that he’s been living with the virus for years.
Thomas was forced to share his diagnosis with the world on Saturday after sick blackmailers threatened to expose his diagnosis.
The sporting hero – who won 100 caps for Wales and “came out” as gay in December 2009 while he was still playing – also said he wanted to reduce the stigma of living with HIV.
Comments from 50-year-old Steve Brookstein – who was dropped by music mogul Simon Cowell 12 weeks after winning the first X Factor in 2004 – have left Twitter reeling after he made bizarre comments about HIV online.
In one bizarre tweet, he wrote: “The hypocrisy of gay men discussing HIV is astonishing.
“They don’t like HIV being compared to obesity or smoking. Yes it is unfortunate and treatable but so is obesity and smoking. #GarethThomas”.
One Twitter user replied: “I’d love to know if you know the circumstances under which Gareth actually contracted HIV? Was it a choice? Like putting food and fags in your mouth are?
“I highly f***ing doubt it.”
Another added: “Its a disease you can get even while taking all precautions. “Obesity and smoking are ppl failing to control themselves, over and over again. Hardly the same you moron.”
Responding to outraged Twitter users, he added: “My last comment on Gareth Thomas. I don’t give a damn what he does in his private life that’s his business.
“I do however think we should treat HIV the same way we treat smoking, obesity and drinking. It is a public health issue. We need to help but also educate.”
Thomas, who also blasted “real camp guys” in his rant, was slammed for his “uneducated” and “shocking” interpretation of the virus.
Since 2017, anyone with HIV on effective treatment has the same life expectancy as anyone of their age in the general population, and cannot pass the virus on.
Twitter user John Walsh slammed Brookstein’s ignorance, writing: “Proving yourself to be extremely homophobic.
“that is a weekend on Twitter that will severely impact your future career!”
Another Twitter user added: “Such an uneducated reaction to @gareththomas
being brave and telling the world something which is really a very private matter to him. Gareth you continue to be awesome.”
Others described his comments as “damn right nasty”, and urged him to educate himself and his children.
Another added: “I think your lack of respect and knowledge about the issue, your callous “jokes” including calling sex “bum sex” shows your immaturity towards the issue.
“You should be using your platform to break down stigmas and barriers. Not build them. I await to see how you promote this..”
Brookstein appeared unrepentant about his comments, saying that he’d “tell his son to use protection”.
Thomas has wowed his fans after completing an Ironman race just hours after revealing his diagnosis.
SICK THREATS Gareth Thomas was targeted by blackmailers who wanted to expose HIV diagnosis
Gareth Thomas was forced to reveal his HIV diagnosis after sick blackmailers threatened to expose his secret.
The sports legend told how he “went through hell” as he tried to keep his health battle hidden from his friends and family.
But he decided to break the news to his parents and two older brothers after blackmailers started using his diagnosis as a “weapon”.
“I’ve been threatened by people who said they would give away my secret. It’s sick and I’ve been through hell,” Gareth, 45, told the Sunday Mirror.
“I was being blackmailed and in my mind I thought you only get blackmailed for something really bad, which compounded the feeling of shame.
“When someone else knows a secret as big as that they can determine your happiness or sadness every morning and use it as a weapon against you and your family.”
He and his husband of four-years Stephen, 56, have won the support of Prince Harry, who praised him on Twitter.
The Duke of Sussex wrote: “Gareth, you are an absolute legend! In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV.
“We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.”
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Matthew Hodson, executive director of NAM, a British HIV/Aids information charity, said declaring an HIV status remained a “difficult decision” for many.
“It can often be met with hostility and fear and this can, in extreme circumstances, result in violence,” Hodson said.
According to UNAIDS, almost 37 million people globally are living with HIV/Aids. An estimated 35 million have died of complications arising from Aids.
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